A Journal, with Pictures

Veracruz Mexico to Antigua, Guatemala

by on Mar.19, 2018, under Flying

After our short stay in Ver­acruz we fly the three and a half hour flight to the Guatemala City air­port. This is a very inter­est­ing flight from a num­ber of points of view. First we have planned our route so that we don’t need oxy­gen, and over the most hos­pitable ter­rain, some elect to change to a short cut route which is fine, but then a MOA goes hot and ATC tries to route every­one over the high­er ter­rain. One hour lat­er, while sit­ting on the taxiway,  we get this fixed and the rest of the planes leave. Last minute changes in these coun­tries proves to be a bad idea. The flight itself is over very inter­est­ing ter­rain and we fly along the east coast turn west and tra­verse the low point of the moun­tain spine of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca to the west coast, past Tapachu­la where we will vis­it lat­er and final­ly we turn in-land to Guatemala City. We are fly­ing between vol­canic moun­tains, one of which is active. As we turn toward the moun­tains we are in the clouds, and Guatemala approach has it hands full with reg­u­lar com­mer­cial traf­fic and a swarm of 12 Cir­rus. Lots of vec­tor­ing and then an ILS approach to the air­port that is 4950 above sea lev­el, with ter­rain all around. Because of the ter­rain and traf­fic, approach keeps us high until the last min­uet then its dive for the run­way, best land­ing I made on the whole trip 140 knots over the fence (yikes). We then taxi to cus­toms, where we are met by about 25 Guatemala and US drug agents in train­ing. After cus­toms, we taxi to park away from the ter­mi­nal, where there are a num­ber of con­fis­cat­ed drug planes, with more parked on the oth­er side of the air­port, includ­ing a Gulf­stream, Embraer and oth­er expen­sive big iron. We then leave Guatemala City for Antigua, which turns out to be an absolute­ly charm­ing colo­nial cap­i­tal city about an hour and a half dri­ve into the high­lands. We arrive at Hotel Camino Real, which is very nice and its time for a Cerveza, shower,  then we recon­vene for a group dinner.

Our first full day in Antigua we do a walk­ing tour of the city, which is sur­round­ed by vol­canic moun­tains, one active. The city was the third cap­i­tal of the King­dom of Guatemala, that at that time includ­ed Belize, Guatemala, El Sal­vador, Nicaragua and Cos­ta Rica under Span­ish Con­quis­ta­dor rule. It is known for its well pre­served Baroque Span­ish archi­tec­ture and many church ruins and retains the cob­ble­stone streets.

We have lunch, in our case with our guide in a local restau­rant for native food, very dif­fer­ent but very good, of course with a local cerveza. We explore the city on our own for the rest of the day then recon­vene for cock­tails before a group pic­ture in front of the hotel, then off to a local restau­rant for dinner.

The sec­ond day we have the option to select one of sev­er­al tours. We select a tour of sur­round­ing vil­lages, that spe­cial­ize in dif­fer­ent crafts, oth­ers choose to climb to the top of one of the vol­cano’s, the one in the pho­to cov­ered by clouds. We view the city from a hill then we see locals doing laun­dry, a tex­tile weav­ing vil­lage, a jade pro­cess­ing fac­to­ry and a Macadamia nut farm before return­ing to Antigua.

Since its Sat­ur­day we then go to the farm­ers mar­ket on the edge of the city, where locals do their week­ly shop­ping. My only fear was get­ting lost in the mar­ket which was team­ing with buy­ers and sell­ers crowed in nar­row aisles around acres of stands. It was chaot­ic but fun. After the tour we wan­dered off to a local restau­rant for lunch and did some more tour­ing and shopping.

It was cock­tails and din­ner at the hotel after the brief­ing for the flight to Pana­ma very ear­ly the next morn­ing. Antigua proved to be a high­light of the trip and wor­thy of being des­ig­nat­ed a World Her­itage Sight.

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